overgrown fern - Knowledgebase Question

Aurora, Il
Question by vshaw1118
February 8, 2011
I have a 20 yr. old Boston fern that is rootbound and needs to be repotted. I'm afraid I might kill it if I repot it incorrectly. There are also a lot of brown leaves and crunchy branches. I'm guessing they should be cut first? How big of a pot should it be in? Should it be divided first?


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Answer from NGA
February 8, 2011

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Repotting your fern shouldn't cause it problems. I'd start by removing all the old, dead fronds. Once you've done that you'll be able to look at the center of the plant to see if it is one single plant or if there are several naturally occuring plants. Either way, you can divide your fern by cutting it into separate pieces. As long as each division has both roots and leaves attached, it will grow into a full and healty plant. If you decide not to divide your plant you can still repot it. Choose a new container that's only a few inches wider and deeper than the current pot and be sure it has adequate drainage holes in the bottom. Use moistened potting soil to line the bottom of the new pot, then unpot your fern and using a sharp knife, shave off an inch of roots from the bottom of the rootmass and from each of the sides. Then set the roots into the new pot and fill in around the sides with moistened potting soil. The root pruning will encourage healthy new root growth and will also provide growing room in the new pot. Hope this answers all your questions. Good luck with your Boston fern.

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